WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama said Sunday the economy will get worse before it gets better, pledged a recovery plan “equal to the task” and warned lawmakers that the days of pork barrel spending are over.
Less than six weeks before his inauguration, Obama declined to say how large an economic stimulus plan he envisions. He said his blueprint for recovery will include help for homeowners facing foreclosure on their mortgages if President George W. Bush has not acted by Inauguration Day, Jan. 20.
“We’ve got to provide a blood infusion to the patient right now to make sure that the patient is stabilized. And that means that we can’t worry short term about the deficit. We’ve got to make sure that the economic stimulus plan is large enough to get the economy moving,” he said.
Obama made his comments on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” in his most extensive interview since winning the White House more than a month ago, and later at a news conference in Chicago.
Obama avoided a direct answer when asked whether he has quit cigarettes as he prepares to move into a no-smoking White House. “I have done a terrific job, under the circumstances, of making myself much healthier. And I think that you will not see any violations of these rules in the White House,” he said.
Twice in the opening moments of the NBC interview, the president-elect said the economic situation “is going to get worse before it gets better,” an unspoken plea with voters to have patience as the incoming administration tries to grapple with the issue.
He announced plans Saturday for the largest public works spending program since the creation of the interstate highway system a half-century ago, although he said aides are still debating among themselves how much it should cost.